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Let’s Just Say This Never Happened

By Sheryl Rentz on April 9, 2018

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You’re out in Las Vegas having the time of your life. It’s been a long time since you’ve had a vacation, and you plan on living it up. Then you run into an amazing person and hit it off right away. It’s a whirlwind of romance the whole weekend you’re there, so you figure, why not get married? When you’ve found “the One,” there’s no need to wait. Life is too short—shouldn’t we all just live in the moment?

Well, now you’re back in Pennsylvania, and reality hits. You married a total stranger who lives thousands of miles away from you. You barely remember the person’s name and now you’re legally bound to him/her. So much for “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Now, you either have to make things work with this person or get a divorce. If you have a lot of assets, the thought of a person you barely know taking a portion of your money may frighten you. The marriage was a split-second decision, so of course you didn’t get a prenuptial agreement.

How can you get out of it? Well, you may be eligible for an annulment, depending on the circumstances. Annulments are similar to divorce in that they end a marriage, except that the law treats the marriage as if it never happened. They tend to take less time than divorce, although in Pennsylvania, you need to have special master appointed in certain instances to prove fraud or duress, and that process could take a while.

In order to get an annulment, your marriage must fall under one of these categories: void or voidable. Let’s go over each one and see which type best fits your situation. Remember, an annulment must be filed within 90 days, so there’s no time to waste.

Void Marriages

Void marriages are prohibited by the law and are not legally recognized. They do not require a court order and will be voided immediately once brought to the court’s attention. For your marriage to be considered “void” in Pennsylvania, one of these statements must be true:

  • You or your spouse are under 18. In this case, your parents can bring up the annulment if neither of them consented to the marriage.
  • You or your spouse is unable to consent to marriage due to mental incapacity or incompetence.
  • You and your spouse are closely related to one another. In Pennsylvania, that could be between ancestor and descendant, aunt and nephew, brother and sister, uncle and niece, or first cousins.
  • You or your spouse is already married to someone else (bigamous or polygamous).

Voidable Marriages

Voidable marriages are valid, but can be declared void under certain circumstances. To do this, a trial and hearing must take place in front of a judge. You must have evidence to support the reasons behind your request for an annulment. One or both spouses must be living in Pennsylvania for at least six months before filing. Your marriage is voidable if:

  • You or your spouse is under 16.
  • You or your spouse is under 18, but were married without consent from parents or legal guardians.
  • You were under the influence of liquor or drugs when you got married. You must get the annulment within 90 days of being married. (This is probably the one you want after a quickie marriage in Vegas.)
  • You and your spouse are physically unable to have sexual intercourse.
  • Your consent to the marriage was obtained by duress, coercion, or fraud. If you continue to live with your spouse after fraud was discovered, the annulment will not be granted.

If you got married under the age of 18, but have since decided that the marriage was a mistake, you may still qualify for an annulment since you were underage when the decision was made.

Annulments do not affect child custody or child support, and there is no such thing as an “illegitimate child.” If children were conceived during the marriage, a paternity test will be given to confirm paternity.

Handling annulments can be very tricky. It is best to have an experienced lawyer by your side to end the marriage as quickly and stress-free as possible. The Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C., has been giving clients in the Main Line area a fresh start at life for over 25 years. Mistakes happen, and you shouldn’t have to be stuck with them for life, or go through a long, drawn-out process to rectify the situation. Give our Montgomery County annulment attorney a call today at (610) 645-0100 for a free consultation.

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